Island Crisis Care Autumn 2010 Newsletter -- Willow Edition

Island Crisis Care Society News

September 28, 2010

The Sophia House Willow | New Professionals at Samaritan House | Ralph's Story -- Crescent House | Unsubscribe | Subscribe to ICCS Newsletters

The Sophia House Willow

The willow tree was chosen as the emblem for our new supportive recovery program, Sophia House, because it  is graceful and elegant and fosters tranquillity in those who recline in it’s shade.

Sophia House Logo
It bends with great flexibility in the strongest winds, and endures gales and storms with resiliency. Even if a hurricane knocks a willow to the ground it grows up again from the roots. Willows love water and they shore up stream banks that might otherwise erode. We thought this was a beautiful metaphor for what Sophia House can offer it’s residents.

Sophia is a Greek word which means wisdom and “wise choices” is the first of five guiding principles for the program (the others are abstinence, work, community, and personal development).

There is an ancient Hebrew genre of writing called wisdom literature which includes books such as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Wisdom was portrayed in these works as feminine, which is another good fit for a program designed for women. Proverbs 9:1- 6 says:

“Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home; it’s supported by seven hewn timbers. The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted, ... and a table set with silver and flowers. Having dismissed her serving maids, Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, and invites everyone within the sound of her voice: ‘Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me! I’ve prepared a wonderful spread - fresh-baked bread, roast lamb ... Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning.’”  — From the Message Translation.

Michelle Authier
Michelle Authier is the manager of Sophia House. She gained experience in the recovery field as the assistant to the Director of a Recovery Program in Surrey. She was active in this capacity for 4 years and has also donework in public relations and graphic design. Michelle describes herself as a cheerful person at heart and as someone who leads by example. She loves to collaborate and bring out the best in her team and radiates  warmth and empathy to others.

From one of Michelle’s monthly reports:

One client who I will refer to as "Jill" had quite a few incredible breakthroughs this month. Jill is in her 50’s and caretaker to her husband who suffers with a chronic, progressive and irreversible disease. Jill is bright and capable and quickly adapted to working on the menus and shopping lists in Sophia House. She taught many new recipes to the staff and other clients.  Jill was matched with another client for 12 step homework and this really helped the other client to understand the homework better as she was struggling. I saw that Jill needed resources outside the program that would help her feel alive and stimulated. She joined an athletic team and currently works out 2 times a week which was a lifelong dream of hers! She attends a  meditation class every week, and volunteers 3 hours a week at a community service. Through this she found new healthy relationships with what she calls "normal" people (i.e. not people in recovery). Jill said that this is the first time that she feels hope for her recovery. The other times she has attempted to get clean she was not connected with resources. She knows that when this happens she gets bored and very lonely, both triggers for misusing alcohol. It has been a privilege to watch Jill go through this process!

Can you help?

A current need at Sophia House is for a new laser printer for the office. We go through a lot of paper and ink creating program material and the printer we have is not adequate and is expensive to run. If you have a laser printer or would like to make a cash donation so we can buy a new one, it would help a lot!

Two New Professionals at Samaritan House

 Violet Hayes

Violet is our new Program Manager at Samaritan House. She came to us from her previous position as Community Services Director for the Salvation Army in Duncan. Prior to that Violet served for many years as an officer in the Salvation Army and has a broad range of experience doing everything from Volunteer coordination and recruiting to managing a large program with 25 staff and 50 volunteers. 

Violet HayesShe has worked in Palliative Care as well as setting up and overseeing thrift stores, a food bank and a soup kitchen.  She worked on four different occasions with the provincial Emergency Social Services providing support to first responders, setting up a reception centre and working at the Command Centre during forest fire emergencies.

Violet has demonstrated an outstanding ability to build teams with a focus on relationships, reliability, and good communication. Under her direction the shelter staff are working together to reach new service standards. The team is also engaged in a new fund-raising project called, “Sweets for the Streets.”

Violet is a forward thinking professional who has  created new bridges with health authority teams such as HOST and CRT. We value her unflappable demeanour, fair mindedness, and big picture thinking.

Samaritan House Bednights

Ronéll Bosman

Ronéll is our new Case Manager at the shelter. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and 22 years of counselling experience with families, individuals, groups, and communities in a variety of settings.

Her experience includes working with women experiencing abuse, working with culturally diverse communities, early childhood development programs, parenting groups, and families at risk. Before coming to Samaritan House she worked at Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society in Calgary where she planned, developed, and facilitated psycho-educational support groups; was involved in case conferences; and gained valuable experience addressing post-shelter housing issues and providing residential services for client’s after leaving the shelter.

Ronéll says she enjoys supporting women at Samaritan House to identify their inner strengths in their journey to a more stable, healthier and safer life. Recently she was instrumental in helping a long time street-entrenched client find the inner resources and resolve to re-connect with VIHA case workers and begin a new phase of recover. At last report that client had been clean for more than 22 days and was looking forward to moving from Crescent House to Sophia House for the next stage of her recovery. Those of us who have known this client over the years are thrilled to see her doing so well.

Sweets for the Streets Announcement

silhouetteRalph's Story

By Nancy Landry, Program Manager - Crescent House

"Ralph" is a "50 something" client, balding, whiskered, and has a physical injury which is the result of an industrial accident.

Among other things he is an alcoholic paranoid schizophrenic with a brain injury. He is also chivalrous, helpful, a man of few words, comfortable with routine, uncomfortable eating with others, wired to cigarettes, coffee, and coca cola -- and he is a cat lover.

We are aware of his interest in cats due to an incident where he brought a young cat into the house saying "we should keep it." Again quite recently staff noticed him tapping on his bedroom window trying to attract the attention of an orange cat in the driveway. We refer to him as gruff and crusty so the cat thing always makes us smile.

In a conversation with his mother I commented that we had not known him before he got sick so maybe he was always a curmudgeon. Mother said he was the sweetest boy and would pick flowers for her on his way home. At one time he could take a car engine apart, do the repair and put it back together again. On a recent visit to mom’s he asked to be returned to Crescent House after supper as he was going to watch the hockey game with the guys indicating a sense of companionship not previously observed.

He seems to have a great interest in working out and owns a good deal of equipment. He does a routine regularly with great concentration. Older movies, particularly John Wayne, he watches for hours. He came to stay with us from a homecare situation where he was steadily and increasingly running over the elderly caregiver. He had become "noncompliant" with meds, hiding them in his cheek, or disposing of them however he could. Smoking in the house and drinking regularly were two reasons he had to leave homecare. His first few months here he continued to engage in the same activities. It tested our wits and fortitude to say the least.

After having his alcohol taken from him at the door he moved to a "plan B." The neighbour alerted us to the fact that he put his drinks outside the bedroom window before entering to show us he had nothing with him. Once inside he simply reached out his bedroom window and retrieved the bottles. Can’t help but wonder how long he would have continued to outsmart us. With consistency, constant reminders, and patience the staff turned the situation around.

Every 3 month there is a meeting between hiscase worker, support workers, mother and myself and we go over the progress Ralph is making in the programs he is involved with. Gradually he has taken more responsibility for his hygiene, goes to the gym/pool regularly, and participates in volunteer work in the community for which he receives a stipend.

Ralph’s future is uncertain at best. Though he no longer tries to drink in the house and has cut back on his drinking in general, it remains a priority for him, as does the excessive amount of cigarettes and cola he consumes each day. There is talk of him returning to private care as he has been with us far longer than usual. His OT ratings are low in all areas and some might say he will never succeed because of all the challenges he faces.

We look at success a little differently though. Here are a few of his successes to date: asking for meds, doing his chores without being asked, and having actual conversations instead of simply “yeah.” He reminds a particular staff that it’s time for their half hour TV show and sets it up if she is busy. Female staff appreciate his help with the garbage. I have even enlisted his very willing help to make sure a client with dementia gets to the pharmacy and back for daily medication pick up.  

When Ralph moves to private care will he continue to practice the courtesies, routines, and skills he learned in our program? Will he understand and abide by the rules? Will he adjust to the new environment and new people? Will he stay on his meds? It is hard to say but we hope so. One thing I can say for sure is that Ralph has taught us more than we have taught him.Crescent House Bed Nights


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